Education professors at LSU and the University of Alabama are working together to help prospective teachers understand children’s behaviors with a social-emotional learning curriculum, according to Paul Mooney, a professor in LSU’s School of Education.
Mooney and University of Alabama College of Education professor Greg Benner are working together to provide LSU and University of Alabama students access to a social-emotional learning curriculum and materials from the Social Emotional Learning Study Group (SELSG+) for their research To provide.
According to Panorama Education, the company behind the program, social-emotional learning is a process in which people acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to create healthy identities, manage their emotions, achieve personal and collective goals, empathize with feeling and showing others, build supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.
SELGC+ is described as a complete guide for teachers on how to use social-emotional learning for students, particularly Kindergarten to Third graders.
According to Panorama, a social-emotional learning curriculum like SELSG+ providers specialize in delivering comprehensive, evidence-based programs that produce positive social, emotional, and academic outcomes for students.
Benner created SELGC+ because educators are not trained enough on how to help youth with mental health issues.
“[Educators] struggling to support all of the behavioral health challenges that they see young people having,” said Benner.
Within the SELGC+, Benner added seven basic behavioral skills that children should follow. This includes asking for help, following directions, doing your best, following the rules, developing strong feelings, and getting along.
According to Benner, SELGC+ is designed to meet the challenge of giving every child the help they need.
“I want to give future educators the information to support each child’s social and emotional needs,” said Benner.
Mooney, who has worked with Benner on previous social-emotional learning projects, said Benner reached out to him and LSU to ask if the university wanted to participate in the social-emotional learning and SELGC+ curriculum.
At the beginning of the 2022 semester, Mooney agreed and worked to integrate the social-emotional learning curriculum into Consultation, Collaboration and Co-Teaching, a special education course.
According to Mooney, Counselling, Collaboration and Co-Teaching, students use social-emotional learning, specifically the SELGC+ materials, to understand adolescent behavior. He said the materials teach students in the class how to help children collaborate at school.
Regarding corporal punishment, where disciplinary action is taken against a child for misbehavior, Mooney said that social-emotional learning will reduce the need for teachers to use corporal punishment.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology Corporal punishment is legal in 19 states, including Alabama and Louisiana.
“Hopefully, implementation of social-emotional learning will reduce the need for reactive, punitive types of punishment in the classroom,” Mooney said.
While the two universities collide on sports, Mooney said combining the resources of LSU and the University of Alabama would help address children’s emotional needs.
“When it comes to working with students with disabilities and students at risk of failure, there is no reason for us to be competitors,” Mooney said. “There’s a reason for us to be partners.”
Cate Sherman, junior in elementary and special education, said the SELGC+ material taught her how to foster behavioral expectations in the classroom.
“A lot of teachers come in with an idea of how they want to bring behavioral expectations into the classroom,” Sherman said. “There’s no way to get it right without having guide material to guide you in creating an effective plan of conduct.”
Sherman said using SELGC+ reduces the need to yell and hit students in the classroom and gives children opportunities to express themselves.
“[Future teachers] teach the next generation,” said Sherman. “You have to have a passion for that [social-emotional learning] helps teachers and children understand how to treat each other with respect.”
Sherman said that the elementary schools that implement social-emotional learning materials have a 95% poverty rate among students
“Some of these kids have their only meal at school,” Sherman said. “They have to fend for themselves from a young age. If they can’t be kids at home, they’re more likely to play around at school.”
Sherman said the social-emotional learning framework allows teachers to respect students while treating them like a child, which some students don’t get at home.
Social-emotional learning helps teachers find the background behind student behavior, said Megan McGinnis, a junior in elementary and special education.
“You don’t know what the kids are going through at home,” McGinnis said. “[Social emotional learning] examines the emotional aspect of children rather than the academic aspect of the child’s life.”
While the materials help teachers, primary and special education student Ahija Lathan said learning the SELGC+ material benefits the children more than the teacher. She said that any child who adapts to social-emotional learning can understand and control their behavior.
“These materials help us to help them,” Lathan said.